It can't have escaped your notice that 12 years after it's launch Microsoft will be ending support for the venerable Windows XP operating system on April 8th 2014. The last new security updates for XP will be released on that date. This of course includes support for XP Mode under Windows 7 which is essentially XP running as a virtual machine. I know many people still run XP in a variety of applications and for a variety of perfectly valid reasons and really don't want to be forced into upgradiing hardware or software just yet - so what does this mean in reality? Here I've tried to answer some frequently asked questions ...
Q: Will my Windows XP machines stop working on April 8th?
Q: If I have to reinstall a machine from my original disc will I still be able to download the updates from Microsoft?
A: Yes, auto update will still work, there just won't be any new updates.
Q: Can I build an installation disc incorporating all the updates since SP3?
A: Yes, you can downlaoad a batch file from here http://xdot.tk/updates.html which in turn will download all the updates, and then slipstream an installation disc with SP3 and the later updates using nlite from here http://www.nliteos.com/download.html. Not the easiest thing to do but it is possible.
Q: Will I still be able to download Microsft Security essentails for XP after April 8th
A: No, but if you already have it installed virus updates will be available.
Q: By running XP am I exposing my system to security risks?
A: Theoretically yes, in practice this depends on your application and risk profile. If you are running XP as your main desktop for web browsing, email etc then you really should have upgraded by now. If however you are keeping XP going for a niche application, or to support hardware that doesn't work with later versions, then assuming your other security measures are up to scratch, the risk is probably minimal.
Of course over time you will find it increasingly difficult to find hardware and drivers to run XP so please don't plan on running it forever!
More info: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows/end-support-help